"The best-case scenario is that some uninsured Georgians would get coverage for some amount of time," Laura Colbert, executive director of the consumer advocacy group Georgians for a Healthy Future,…
The Georgia General Assembly convened last Monday through Thursday, completing four days of the constitutionally capped 40-day session. The first week of the 2019 legislative session was mostly taken up with committee appointments, inauguration-related celebrations, and Governor Kemp’s first State of the State address.
This week will be dedicated primarily to budget hearings for the current (FY 2019 Amended) and next year’s (FY 2020 General) state budgets. The General Assembly will reconvene next Monday, January 28th for the fifth day of legislative session.
State budget outlines Governor’s top priorities
On Thursday, Governor Kemp addressed the General Assembly in his first annual State of the State address and, per tradition, used the opportunity to introduce his proposed budget. Governor Kemp laid out his priorities for his first year in office, including education and health care. The amended budget (an update to the current state budget) includes $1 million for the Department of Community Health to draft an 1115 Medicaid waiver plan that will attempt to lower costs and improve access to health care. This waiver could include a pathway to health coverage for low-income Georgians. Tell Gov. Kemp and your state legislators that you support closing Georgia’s coverage gap so all Georgians can have health insurance card in their pockets.
The FY 2020 budget, which will begin on July 1, 2019, includes $8.4 million to fund a school-based mental health initiative called Project Apex, which aims to increase access to mental health services for children and youth. Because of a reduction in how the federal and state governments share costs for the program, an additional $27.4 million is included for the PeachCare for Kids program. The House will now take up and consider the budget before passing it to the Senate later in the session.
Early legislation introduced
House Minority Leader Bob Trammell introduced HB 37 which would expand Medicaid to low-income adults in Georgia. Closing Georgia’s coverage gap by expanding Medicaid (or through a Georgia-specific 1115 Medicaid waiver) would be the most significant step Georgia’s law makers can take to strengthen the state’s weakening rural health care system, address the opioid and substance use epidemic, and put an insurance card in the pocket of all Georgians regardless of income. Contact your legislators and let them know that you support closing Georgia’s coverage gap and they should too.
Legislation to combat “period poverty”
HB 8 would create an exemption from the state sales and use tax for certain menstrual products. The legislation is sponsored by Rep. Buckner, who has spoken about the impacts of the costs of menstrual products on young women’s ability to be successful students and workers. The bill has been referred to the House Ways & Means Committee.
The legislative calendar begins to take shape
The General Assembly set its calendar for the first eleven days of the 2019 legislative session in SR 14. After this week’s budget hearings, the session will pick up again according to the following schedule:
January 28: Day 5
January 29: Day 6
January 30: Day 7
February 5: Day 8
February 6: Day 9
February 7: Day 10
February 8: Day 11
GHF has covered
GHF will be monitoring legislative activity on a number of critical consumer health care topics. Along with our weekly legislative updates and timely analysis of bills, we have the tools you need to stay in touch with health policy under the Gold Dome.
Look out for the 2019 Consumer Health Advocates Guide coming soon!